Research Papers: Design Automation

A New Method for Making Design Decisions: Decision Topologies

[+] Author and Article Information
Vijitashwa Pandey

Industrial and Systems
Engineering Department,
Oakland University,
2200 N Squirrel Road,
Rochester, MI 48309
e-mail: pandey2@oakland.edu

Zissimos P. Mourelatos

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Oakland University,
2200 N Squirrel Road,
Rochester, MI 48309
e-mail: mourelat@oakland.edu

An interval whose left end-point is included in the set but the right end-point is not, is a right-open interval.

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Automation Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received May 16, 2013; final manuscript received November 18, 2014; published online January 9, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Bernard Yannou.

J. Mech. Des 137(3), 031401 (Mar 01, 2015) (8 pages) Paper No: MD-13-1213; doi: 10.1115/1.4029218 History: Received May 16, 2013; Revised November 18, 2014; Online January 09, 2015

This paper shows how reliability block diagrams can be used as a decision making tool. The premise behind the idea is that classical decision analysis (DA), while very powerful, does not provide much tractability in assessing utility functions and their use in making decisions. Our recent work has shown that a reliability block diagram which is a visual representation of systems, can be used to describe a decision situation. In decision making, we called these block diagrams decision topologies (DTs). We show that DTs can be used to make engineering decisions just as DA. The paper also proves that in the limit, using DTs is entirely consistent with DA for both single attribute and multi-attribute cases. The main advantages of the proposed method are that (1) it provides a visual representation of a decision situation, and (2) accommodates continuous and binary attributes together, as well as the tradeoff between them. The paper details the theoretical basis of the proposed method and highlights its benefits. An example is used to demonstrate how DTs can be used in practice.

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Fig. 1

Reliability block diagram (DT) in a hypothetical vehicle buying decision

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Fig. 2

Utility function for a risk-averse DM, normalized within the range of negotiability

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Fig. 3

A DT for a single attribute (superscript is not an exponent)

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Fig. 4

Comparison of a utility function with a DT score when the first partitioning of the attribute is uniform

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Fig. 5

Comparison of a utility function with a DT score when the first partitioning of the attribute is proportional to the local value of the derivative

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Fig. 6

An example block representing tradeoff between price and mpg for the vehicle buying example

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Fig. 7

DT for multi-attribute case (only one row is shown)

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Fig. 8

Best DT obtained by the ESTA method

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Fig. 9

Reduced DT for row 3 of Table 2



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